Maple Farm Equipment is now part of the Jim Pattison group. Canada's third largest privately held company, it has divisions in a wide range of different industries through Western Canada, but this will be the first time it has gone into agriculture.
Jim Pattison, company founder, says that the move is neither a merger nor a takeover, but a partnership between his company and Maple Farm Equipment. The goal of the partnership will be to give more stability to the implement dealer, but the operation will be largely independent under general manager Kevin Hitchings.
Maple Farm Equipment is a John Deere ag equipment dealer group headquartered in Yorkton, Saskatchewan. It operates seven dealership locations in Balcarres, Foam Lake, Moosomin, Preeceville, Russell, Wynyard and Yorkton.
“We hope that we can bring capital if we need it, we think there may be some opportunities to grow in different ways that we might be helpful if needed. I think that we are very long-term players ourselves, we don’t buy things for three months, three years or even thirty years, we do everything for the long, long term. We felt that this is the manufacturer, the quality of the people in this company, and we hope that we can add some stability to the long term that might be helpful.”
With talk of capital comes talk of expansion, and Hitchings says that they are currently looking at different ways to grow and invest into the business. He says that being with Pattison means they will be able to start looking at expansion, though there are naturally factors to consider before the company grows, they will start planning for expansion into the future. Hitchings notes that one of the things limiting growth is people, finding the employees to work in the company, and he says that they will be watching new programs like the Parkland College’s Trades and Technology Center to see how many new technicians it will produce which they can recruit, for example.
“It’s all about the people,” Hitchings says.
Management will stay local, Pattison says, and he emphasizes that priority was finding people that knew both the industry and the local market. He says that his job is to support management in their decisions and provide stability in an industry that can sometimes be volatile.
“They know the people, they know the product, they know the customers, it’s the logical thing to do,” Pattison says.
The move into agriculture was something that the company wanted to make, and they were connected with Maple through John Deere itself. Pattison says they want to get in the industry with the company they saw to be an industry leader, and so the first step was to start a relationship with John Deere, before connecting with Maple Farm Equipment itself. Pattison says that farming is not going away, so it’s a wise investment.
“What we believe is that the population of the world is going to continue to grow, and we think the need for food is going to be significantly more important,” Pattison concludes.